While Cardington’s offense got off to a slow start at Northmor, their defense didn’t falter in leading the team to a 64-24 road win in Wednesday night KMAC action.
The Pirates struggled to score early and had only 25 points by halftime, but still possessed a 15-point lead in a game they led most of the way.
“We never play well here and didn’t shoot free throws well again, but our defense held them to 10 (first half) and 14 (second half),” said Cardington coach Jamie Edwards. “As good as they played against North Union last night, we knew we were in for a battle.”
The Knights struck first, with Addie Farley hitting a three-pointer at the 5:47 mark of the first quarter, but Cardington responded with two baskets by Taylor Reppart and one from Paige Clinger. A Cristianna Boggs’ three knotted the game at six, but Northmor wouldn’t score over the final 3:40 of the opening period, allowing the Pirates to jump out to an eight-point lead.
Cardington took their advantage from the paint, as both Casey Bertke and Hannah Wickline tallied four points during that span. Knight coach Fred Beachy noted that Cardington’s size made it tough to get things going inside; a problem that was compounded by his team missing too many of the open shots they got from close range.
“Put that in big letters,” he said. “Missed lay-ups. We preach it, but we can’t go out and shoot it. You can’t miss lay-ups against a good team or they’ll punish you. They definitely have size. When we shoots threes, if we don’t make them, it’ll be a long, long game.”
For the contest, the Knights connected five times from long range, but only hit four shots from inside the arc. Meanwhile, the Pirates had two three-pointers and 28 successful attempts from further inside.
Northmor’s offensive struggles allowed Cardington to continue adding to their lead in the second quarter. The Knights were held to another three from Farley and one free throw by Brooke Bennett in the period, while Cardington got a three from Clinger and two points each from Bertke, Kynlee Edwards, Sage Brannon and Alex Maceyko in opening up a 25-10 lead at the break.
Jamie Edwards said that his team’s zone defense might have given up a few three-pointers, but did a strong job of keeping the Knights out of rhythm and forced a lot of turnovers.
“What we talked about at halftime was that they got a couple threes in the corner, which is a weakness of the 1-3-1, but we wanted to force them to shoot quickly from the corner,” he said.
Two big third-quarter runs essentially clinched the game for Cardington. After Kyndall Spires and Becca Duckworth traded scores to open the period, Cardington scored 10 straight, four by Bertke, to lead 37-12. Macy Miracle tallied two for the Knights, but Cardington finished the quarter with 11 straight points to lead 48-14 going into the final period.
While the Knights had their best offensive output in the fourth, getting eight points from Farley and 10 overall, the Pirates continued to add to their lead. Bertke scored six in the period, while both Reppart and Clinger added four.
While Beachy and assistant coach Matt Wiseman felt their young team played well defensively for much of the game, they noted that their youthfulness simply led to too many mistakes to beat a team like Cardington.
“We played great defensively, but they’re really good,” said Beachy. “We just have some mental lapses sometimes and get out of position and good teams expose that.”
Wiseman added: “We know we’re not a finished product and our inexperience shows at times.”
Farley finished with 14 of her team’s 24 points, hitting four three-pointers in the game. For Cardington, Bertke had 18, while Reppart added 12, Clinger tallied nine and Spires scored eight. Edwards noted that the contributions of Reppart and Wickline (six points) early on really helped his team, as Brannon got banged up and missed a few minutes and several other starters were struggling to score.
“Kynlee was nonexistent from three and when Sage got hurt early, Taylor got in and hit two early,” he said. “That’s good for her because next year, she’ll step into a leadership role at guard with Kynlee. Hannah’s been playing great. She’s the most improved after not playing her freshman year. The ceiling for her is high.”